Fantasy, Humour, Short Fiction

Ping’s Complaint by Leila Allison

Ping Beams of Jim

No matter what type of dimension you inhabit, watching and hearing a Moon roll noisily toward you from the sky is an odd thing. Such happened the other night as I was out in the Barnyard shooting the evening breeze with Daisy Cloverleaf the Pygmy Goatess and my Lead Imaginary Friend and second in command of the realm of Saragun Springs, Renfield.

“Ping’s coming down,” Renfield said.

“You hear that? He’s making a noise, like thunder,” Daisy added.

Renfield held a hand to her ear. “Yeah, I think you’re right, Daisy. He sounds like a rolling bowling ball.”

“Hope he’s not attempting a three pin spare,” I said. But I had been expecting the visit.

Ping is the realm of Saragun Springs’ newly acquired Moon–his brother Pong is our Sun. There are also two-hundred-twenty eight stars in our sky. One for each Fictional Character (FC) in the realm. (They are of varying magnitude, much to the consternation of the dimmer FCs.) Ping glows greenish-purple and is self luminous; unlike regular Moons Ping does not reflect sunshine–or in his case Pongshine. But he isn’t star hot; his cold light resembles that of a glow stick and never wears down. Scientifically speaking, Ping should not be able to sustain an unaided everlasting glow, but ever since the Discworld realm briefly passed through our skies during the Sargun Springs’ birthday celebration to honor the Disc’s creator, the late Terry Pratchett on his birthday (coincidentally the day Ping first rose), we assumed that Ping was the recipient of a glowing, yet otherwise useless magic spell of some kind. Of course, once more scientifically speaking, no Moon should be able to roll down like a bowling ball, either. So maybe there was a little more to that spell than what was initially observed.

Ping eventually arrived where we were in the Barnyard. While up where he belongs, Ping, like his brother Pong, is the size of a blueberry held at arm’s length. In person he is the size of a yoga ball (no one knows Pong’s real size). He stopped and hovered near us about three feet above the ground. You cannot mathematically deduce Ping’s distance from the floor of the realm because the laws of nature in Saragun Springs are affected by my limited knowledge of science and infinite capacity to ignore the few laws I do know. All the little places on the ground are always “‘bout a mile away” at the farthest. The Saragun Springs world/dimension is only partially flat and is as over all amorphous as one of the asteroids not big enough to gather itself into an orb. So Ping could be a hundred feet away when in his normal station or at the otherside of the freaking galaxy as far as anyone can guess. Studying the process depends greatly on how much of your sanity you want to invest and watch go down the swirly. The smart ones quit early and sing Kumbaya.

Both Pong and Ping are sentient, but until Ping began pissing and moaning, they’d kept to themselves. Little sun Pong does pretty much as he damn well pleases between “the lit sixes” which is the interval of daylight of every Sargun Springs’ day. He rises precisely at six A.M. and sets exactly at six P.M. on the dot. He shines for exactly twelve hours, but traverses the sky in a wandering sort of way that is impossible to predict. Sometimes he will just stand there–other times he’ll speed here and there and mess with the shadows. Pong sets wherever he wants and makes a game of it because he appears to know that the residents of the realm “Pongspot”–a gambling activity in which you predict exactly where Pong will go down on the horizon behind the Nameless Hills. North, south, east, west, west by east west–whatever. He’s liable to land anywhere–and often fakes setting one place before dashing to another. But one thing is for certain, exactly twelve hours later he will dawn at the precise point he had set the night before behind The Nameless Hills that encircle the realm. Except for whatever mysterious places Ping and Pong go when off duty, nothing exists beyond the Nameless Hills–you can go there and climb one but the second you approach the crest, you are instantly transported back to where you began the journey.

Ping works the “dark sixes.” He always rises in the south at precisely the instant Pong sets wherever, then our little Moon staggers north, weaving to and fro but still plugging along, and manages to sink kinda-sorta in the north at daybreak. We figure he spends the day rolling around behind the mountains so he can rise in the south the next evening–due to an incessant yet distant rumble of daylight thunder. Recently, Ping began voicing inarticulate comments from the night sky. Wolves in service of the Witch HeXopatha (A powerful Fictional Character–or “FC” in the realm–whose star shines brightly indeed), conversed with Ping. Theirs was an echoey, howling discourse that didn’t make much sense; sounded like a bunch of drunks bellowing show tunes in an empty parking garage.

After a few nights of this, I asked one of the Wolves what all the noise between them and Ping meant. He just looked at me and said “Huh-woo-woo-hooo.” All FC Wolves are extreme capitalists, especially HeXopatha’s, you can’t ask one the time without first greasing a paw. I rented the venal bastard’s loyalty with a bag of That’s a Good Boy Treats (“So Smelly You’ve Just Got to Roll in it” flavored). I asked him to spread the loot around with the pack and to deliver a message to Ping: “Come down and tell me about it, or shut the hell up.”

The bribe hadn’t gone to waste.

“Hello Ping,” I said. “You must know that I am Leila, the ruling Penname of Saragun Springs. May I present Miss Daisy Cloverleaf and Renfield, our second in command.”

“Hiya, Day-field. and Renzy, a treath-zure,” Ping said with a voice juiceingly like my grandfather’s after he’d return from the bathroom for the fifth time in forty-five minutes whenever his 12 Stepper brother, my Great Uncle Errol, visited the house accompanied by whatever temperance thumping “harpy” Errol had taken up with at the time–he sure knew how to pick ‘em up at the church social. Ping didn’t show us a face, but he made the voice which matched quick greenish purple pulses of light that flashed across his shape.

“Sounds like you’ve been hitting the Pingshine,” I said, wondering how he drank–but also glad to see that they serve alcohol behind the Nameless Hills, in case I needed to visit.

“Ye wood tupe, i’ youse hadda bruther li’ my-yun.”

(The preceding are the only remarks that will be written as Ping had enunciated them. The rest is edited for sense and not altered other than for the sake of it. Fortunately, I am fluent in drunken gibberish.)

“Great,” I said, “we got a Ray and Dave Davies’ sibling beef going on in our sky,” I said.

“Just like the Gallaghers,” Renfield said.

“Do they smash watermelons?” Daisy asked.

“Um, she means Oasis and not the late sledge-o-matic comic, Daisy,” I said.

“I see,” Daisy said, with a bit of frost in her voice, for she doesn’t like to be corrected.

I smiled at Ping. “You guys are never in the sky at the same time–except the day you were born. Never behind the Nameless Hills at the same time, either. How can you get on each other’s nerves?”

“Pong’s an egotistical snob,” Ping said. “He’s always messing with my things while I’m up at night. And he leaves me self improvement suggestions.”

“I see,” I lied. “So, you want me to ground him for touching your stuff?”

“That would be an idea.”

“No can do, Ping, things would get a bit dark around here, and the drunks wouldn’t know when to pass out. But, I’ll tell you what, since my life isn’t hell enough already, Miss Renfield and Daisy will figure out a solution, then tell the Wolves who’ll send word tomorrow night.”

The Delegates of Hell

Did Pilate dry his hands after washing them? Did he use a blower or paper? Or did he just wipe them on his toga? What did they use for sanitizer back then? Beats me, but if Heaven is as dull as it sounds, and on the extreme off chance that the standards are low enough to allow me entry, I figure it’s a good idea to bring fresh conversation starters.

If I recall my Jesus Christ Superstar correctly, Pilate first attempted to delegate the Jesus problem to a Herod who resembled the late Robbie Coltrane, topless and in a mini skirt. But the Son bounced back to the Roman prefect, and, well, anyone who’s seen the film knows the rest.

Such is the trouble with delegating tasks to individuals who have Free Will. All the Fictional Characters (FC’s) in Saragun Springs are abundantly rich with Free Will. So, whenever I arrogantly assign them a task instead of first asking nicely, such as sloughing off the Ping complaint on Daisy and Renfield, I get what I deserve.

The downside of blackout drinking is the return of the reality you temporarily avoided but can never escape. It’s sorta like one of those botched rocket launches you see on YouTube.

I always wake at 3:00 A.M. no matter what. My Creator gave me Free Will, too–except she wired me to be up at three because she has to be, and so should I, damn it. That’s the baseless logic of gods if you ask me. Still, no matter what dimension you are in, one of the primary features of 3 A.M. is darkness (unless you are at an Insomnia latitude). Yet when I came to my desk, beside a mostly killed fifth of Jim Beam, I realized something was wronger (a three o’clock in the morn’ word) than usual. It was as bright as mid-afternoon out the window. For a moment I thought my Creator had at last come to her senses, or had died,; but a quick glance at my phone confirmed that it was three in the morning, as always, as freaking always.

Passing out with a bit left in the bottle is a blessing. Things being the way they were, I put down the last two fingers of Beam and lit a cigarette. As I consumed, I had dimly hoped that the unexpected daylight would go away without my having to do something about it. No such luck. In fact I heard a bunch of voices out in the Barnyard once my head cleared some. Though clad in sweats and my cleanest dirty bathrobe, I figured I was dressed well enough to see what hell lay on the other side of the door.

I went out in the Barnyard and saw about twenty FC’s yammering excitedly. Along with Renfield and Daisy, there were Tallywhacker and his wife Taffypuller the Berkshire Hogs, various Black Cats and Rats in service of HeXopatha (who represented the missing Witch who is never seen at the same time with Renfield around and vice versa), Gordon Cormorant, the Ghost of my Great to the fourth Grandfather, Judge Jasper P. Montague, and so forth. Every one of them was a daily Pongspotter, and they were wagering like stock brokers smelling blood (except Pie-Eyed Peety the PDQ Pilsner Pigeon who was passed out on a haystack). No one noticed my arrival.

I looked in the sky and saw both Ping and Pong toward the north, a few degrees above the Nameless Hills, circling slowly, like gunfighters, sharing a common axis, holding a separation about the width of my shaky hand.

“Hello, Miss Leila.” Daisy appeared at my feet. “Would you like me to tell you what’s going on or do you know more about that than me, too?”

“I’m sorry, Daisy–I didn’t mean to infer that you know less about a subject than I do, the other night. I have no doubt that you are far better versed in useless knowledge than I will ever be. And in that spirit, everything you know about what’s going on here is superior to my understanding of it, which is absolute zero.”

Daisy is as bright as she is reluctant to let a perceived insult go; you can’t lay it on too thick without risking an increase of her singular passive aggressive rage.

She blinked and I could tell that she had decided to review what I had said “later.” She showed that sinister little grin of hers and explained.

“After you dumped the Ping and Pong issue on us, Miss Renfield decided that their beef should be decided in the wrestling ring.”

Renfield popped over, she had been listening, as usual. “Now that you are up, darling, we can begin the rumble.”

One of HeXopahta’s Owls flew off, and soon a bell rang in the tower on HeXopatha’s estate. This ended the wagering and Ping remained north while Pong dashed to the south. The bell tolled again and they flew at each other. I was half expecting a shower of Moon or Sun stuff to result from what was certainly going to be a high speed collision.

Instead they came within the thinnest separation and began to spin wildly around together like one of those black hole arrangements in deep space. I didn’t know it until later but the brothers have different magnetic properties and cannot touch. This caused them to spin a tight bright circle from which a series of paisley aurora replicated themselves in the sky. Soon the entire sky looked like a loud necktie.

Then Pong broke off, took what he must have thought to be a victory lap above the Nameless Hills. The Pongspotters began wagering on where he’d go down. Whoever picked southwestish, won. He went down and rose there about three hours later; hence it was dark as it should be a bit past three in the morning.

Ping stayed up, but there was a weird yet perceptible boastfulness in his attitude as he resumed his course north that suggested that he thought he had won. The gamblers argued about this but I had stopped listening to them because the thousands of paisley auroras in the sky did not fade away. Even after Pong had set, they glowed and could be clearly discerned. In fact they are still up there–day and night.

“Great,” I muttered, “now what are we going to do about a paisley sky?”

“Wear solid colors,” Daisy said. “Unless you already know that too.”

Ping’s Complaint

Image: – background of a night sky with the silhouette of a howling wolf.

11 thoughts on “Ping’s Complaint by Leila Allison”

  1. Hi Leila,
    I always post the comments that you have already read and I always think that I can’t add. I don’t really but in even typing this, I do!
    I look back and wonder if there is anything else that I could add and the sad thing is if I started writing more notes, well, there would be more to write.
    that is the beauty of your work. It’s like a pot of soup and the addition of a few grains of salt each time – It is enhanced and becomes more and more tasty.
    Fuck me I’m shite at metaphors!!
    And that one even comes from a Grimm’s story that I have now made an awfy cunt of!!!
    So enough of this terrible addition!!!

    – Stars to FC ratio is a sublime idea!
    – Love the capitalisation of ‘Moons’ – Your choice of capitalisation is always inspired!
    – Pongshine made me smile.
    – Wednesday’s face when they sing ‘Kumbaya’ in the second (I think Adam’s Family film)was Oscar worthy!!) I watched ‘Wednesday’ on Netflix as I love Tim Burton. Visually it is what you would expect but the fucking 12 classification stops it being as dark as it should be!!!
    – Messing with shadows is a cracking image.
    – Never think about this, and I have mentioned this many a time…Your explanation of a back story is so skilled it is fucking annoying!!!!!!!!!!!!! I think on a natural ability like this. If you have ever played snooker or pool, that is fine, play the way that you do. NEVER, EVER, NEVER EVER, think about whether you should look at the ball or the pocket before you play your shot … You are fucked if you do!!!!
    – ‘So smelly you just have to roll in it’ – A memorable line for all dog owners!!!
    – ‘Juicengly’ – You like to rip it with me!!!!!!!!!!
    – Dave Davies – Weirdly I had a poem published about a friend who lost his friend in a motorbike accident and he was called Dave Davies.
    – Self Improvement (Should that be capitalised??) suggestions would annoy anyone.
    – ‘Things would get dark around here and the drunks wouldn’t know when to pass out’ Brilliant!!…However, I reckon I have passed out more in daylight hours!!!
    – Fuck!! How obvious. You have answered an age old question Leila – Tim Rice wrote the bible!!!!! It was never about religion, just a shit sound track that made squillions of money.
    – 3.00am is the Devil’s hour. I have had my share of having to wake at that time. Ironically now that I don’t have to wake, I still get up. That’s why I’m passed out during daylight hours!!!!
    – ‘My cleanest dirty bathrobe’ That says so much and resonates with everyone…Except me. I hate PJS and robes. I am either clothed or naked. By fuck has that got me into allsorts of trouble! I think we all want to forget my visit to the convent!!!
    – The passive aggressive patronising between Leila and Daisy was brilliantly done!
    – Who ever thought that a Paisley Pattern worked. I wonder where that term came from?? The only pattern you would get in Paisley would be blood splatter!!

    Just brilliant Leila!! I’ve said before and I will say time and time again, I’m jealous of your imagination!!!!


    1. Thank you, Hugh

      I used to try to sneak up on the backstory until it occurred to me to attack it directly. After all, it knows you’re coming, no need to be coy about it.
      I cannot express my appreciation for you enough!


  2. This should win academy awards as did “Everything, All The Time, All At Once” because I didn’t understand either, but they both have good visuals.
    I will remember for as long as my soft aged brain permits – So smelly he had to roll in it.
    I’m old black out drunk doesn’t forget memories, it doesn’t form them. Sounds right to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Doug

    As the song goes, “I would rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy–two different ways to kill the pain”
    Thanks to my older brother, most of my philosophy comes from the Dr. Demento show. Sadly both the co-composer of “Fish Heads” and singer of “Coming to Take Me Away” have gone to the funny farm in the sky.
    Keep rocking to the south



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